Talk about slim pickings… The remaining list of NBA free agents is nothing to get excited about. But with teams trying to fill their rosters with role players at fairly inexpensive prices, the free agency period is far from over. Here are some of the top players still on the market.
1. Josh Howard, G/F, Wizards
His season-ending injury has likely cost him a decent chunk of change this off-season as he may not be ready to play when the season begins. Still, any team looking for a swing man who can start or make an immediate impact off their bench should be targeting Howard. The former Maverick is a year removed from averaging 18 points and 5 boards on a talented Dallas team and the Bulls have express interest despite already signing Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer this off-season. Chicago still has the cap space to make Howard a solid offer as does the Knicks and his most recent former team, the Wizards. Both of those teams could use some depth on the wing. Otherwise, he might have to settle for a mid-level exception. He seems to be available for a solid bargain at this point of the off-season. Boston is still a possibility though any deal would likely have to come via sign-and-trade since the Celtics used all of their mid-level exception on Jermaine O’Neal.
Possible Destinations: CHI, WAS, CLE, NY
2. Richard Jefferson, SF, Spurs
I am still scratching my head at Jefferson’s dumbfounded move of opting out of the final year of his deal that would have paid him $15.2 million next season. He must be regretting that decision worse than Ron Burgundy choosing to drink milk on a hot San Diego afternoon. Teams with a ton of cap space have moved in other directions meaning he will likely have to take a mid-level exception if the Spurs choose not to re-sign him. At this point of his career, I would imagine Jefferson would rather take less money to play for a contender than join a re-building franchise. He will be lucky to sniff a $15-plus million payday even if it is over three-year deal. Over/under of one month until he fires his agent.
Possible Destinations: SA, CLE
3. Shaquille O’Neal, C, Cavs
The options for the Diesel seem to be dwindling. Teams like Boston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Miami that would have been possible destinations, have addressed their need for depth up-front already while LeBron’s exit from Cleveland sealed the deal that Shaq would not be returning to Cleveland. Atlanta continues to be the most talked about destination but there seems to be reluctancy on Shaq’s part to play for the Hawks. I think Chicago makes a lot of sense since they could be losing Brad Miller and could use a big body to back-up Joakim Noah. Plus, the Bulls figure to be one of the top four teams in the East meaning Shaq would be playing for a contender. A return to the Lakers would also be an interesting match since they need a back-up for the oft-injured Andrew Bynum, but that reconsiliation seems unlikely unlike Shaq is willing to suck up his pride and be a fifth wheel in hopes of landing another ring. The final option which seems more and more like a possibility as the calender moves closer to August is for Shaq to remain a a free agent and see how the season plays out, possibly signing midway through for the league minimum with a contender or a team who loses a big man to injury. The final, FINAL option is retirement.
Possible Destinations: ATL, CHI, LAL
4. Tracy McGrady, SF, Knicks
No team seems willing to make T-Mac a long term offer and with his recent injury history, you cannot blame them. He reportedly has a workout scheduled with the Clippers even though they have already signed Ryan Gomes and drafted Al-Farouq Aminu this off-season. To me, Cleveland seems like a perfect match. They have a hole on the wing since that LeBron James guy left town (not sure if you heard about that) and still have about $8 million in cap space. McGrady would provide an instant offensive boost and could be a short-term transition as the Cavs move on to life post-Bron. Or maybe T-Mac sucks up his pride, signs for the league minimum in Miami, accepts his late-career destiny as a role player, and tries to win a ring. I mean, that’s a better option than signing Penny Hardaway, right?
Possible Destinations: LAC, CHI, CLE, MIA, NY
Check out the other availabe free agents
Click here for David Kay’s NBA off-season analysis
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